The rocking chairs are gone. My brother swiftly removed them once we finished our “second-round picks.” This is the dismantling process of my parents sixty-five-year marriage and fifty-plus years in the same home—built with my mother’s creative juices and my father’s savvy land-purchase on the waterway.
Sitting on the porch with my father after feeding the birds—in silence—continues to be a treasured memory with him. One time he broke the silence with, “You sure are something. I always feel good around you. You bring calm and ease.” I received his compliment as much as I could at the time. The last time I was in the house sitting silently on the porch by myself, I didn’t know it would be the last time, on the porch, in those wicker rocking chairs with maroon-covered cushions.
Christmas 2019 my family gathered with my mother in her home. I knew it was her last holiday. My daughter and her boyfriend flew from California. My son arrived from Massachusetts. We invited a few long-time friends and a beloved cousin to Christmas dinner. At the dinner table we sat on chairs that my mother and her friends had covered in needlepoint many years ago. Mamma joined us like a warrior—delighting in the company even as her aging body kept saying, it’s time to say goodbye. I knew it was the last time. My sister has these chairs and said she would replace the needlepoint, followed by, “Do I want them?”
Dismantling a life is excruciating. It is also a mirror of our human condition—and expressed in phrases like:
Creating – Sustaining – Destroying
Ending – Pause – New Beginning
However you like to describe a transition, the words remain hollow until fully engaged by eyes, hearts and spines. Welcome to a nano-moment of transition with me.
Are you aware of “the last times” in your life?
Presently I sit in the passenger’s seat of a rental car (I did not know it would be the last time in my former car—crapped out when we arrived down South!) My son drives skillfully to my parent’s home—maybe for the last time—to remove my furniture inheritance from the home, now under contract for new owners in a few weeks.
I will enter an empty house.
I will prepare myself for shock.
I imagine the intimate closure of their life well-lived, their way.
I mourn, once again, their passing, eight months apart.
I explore the distorted family beliefs that kept the thread of my birth family together.
I continue to grow up. (Giving myself a high-five and an imaginary hug.)
I am fully awake to the last time.
How are “the last times” arriving in your life?
Pausing in present reality, I imagine what’s next. My brother planning a renovation of his beach house will surely enjoy his rockers with new cushions facing a water view. He will host cook-outs with his fishing buddies and his spouse’s book club. They will rest on those rockers while talking about their big catch, and the next historical memoir to be read. I won’t sit on those rockers again. I’ve experienced the last time on those rockers.
My sister—talented in color and design—will re-upholster the dining room chairs with fine taste and beauty. Her family will enjoy holiday celebrations and captivating conversation while sitting around the table. Her someday grandchildren will learn proper southern table manners celebrating Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas Eve meals. I’ve experienced the last time on those dining room chairs.
My heart tugs. I blow a kiss of generosity to my brother—be well, be kind and love your life. I embrace a virtual hug with my sister sending good wishes for a healthy, serene and satisfying life as nostalgia fills my gut with aching laughter. Always know the tendrils of our laughing together.
The last time is not meant as a slap in the face or a gut punch. The last time is “what is so”—and we choose how to be present to truth.
I choose to honor and rejoice in what was.
I choose to cherish my knowing of experiences.
I choose to offer joy, blessings and good wishes to what’s next.
Choices, heart-held choices, are the threshold for our nourishing tomorrows.
Five more hours driving. I’ll catch you in the future—on the other side—dismantling and closing the last chapter in my parents’ book of life.
Choosing, dismantling, celebrating, the last time,
Be Moved to Practice
Welcome to my one-minute water sit with a new flavor. In the video I offer guided suggestions to support your practice.
Our country is hurting. Our hearts are hurting. May this month’s one-minute water sit be a taste of healing—however you need and want to be healed.
I walk beside you. I practice with you.
Let’s move fluidly toward goodness for all as the pain of our history dismantles and heals.